Wednesday, May 20, 2009

a call no father wants to get

It was about midnight, or maybe one in the morning. I'm an early-to-bed guy, so any time after 10:00 could be anytime. The phone rang. It was my son. He said he was in trouble.

The words were slurred, or maybe it was me. I don't know. I went from complete slumber to wide awake in a second. Was it me, or was it him?

"What happened?"
"I was in an accident."
"Are you OK?"
"I'm fine."
"Were you drinking?"
"Yes. But, I'm not wasted. I rolled the car. It's totaled."

My relief was moving to anger. Being upset wasn't going to help anything. We'd had discussions about drinking and driving...recently. I was being too uptight. I didn't understand. Maybe I needed to drink more. I explained that I could never recall a situation where drinking too much ever improved a situation. I told you so was so close to my lips. But, he's my son.

I was at the office about two hours from home.

"Do you want me to come home?"
"I'm OK."
"We'll talk tomorrow."

I called Carol to find out what she knew. He blew .24. .08 is legally drunk in Wisconsin. My God, now what?

I called him in the answer. A quick call came back, but I was on the phone. Phone tag ensued for a little while, but we connected.

"How are you feeling."
"Not good. I really messed up."
"Yes, you did. We need to come up with a plan. Are you OK with that."
"Dad, I have a problem. I've already looked into AA. I'm going on Friday and Saturday. I'm going to call the school and see what I can do there. I don't want anyone to feel this way."
"Hold that feeling," I said. "Use it to understand why people feel the way they do about drunk drivers. You are that person, the person that killed their father, their son. I'm not trying to be an asshole. But, you've got to understand. This is your chance."
"I know. I know"
"This may sound crazy, but this is probably the best thing that ever happened to you. This is a lesson that will live with you the rest of your life. Nobody was killed, but you know the result could have been, and probably should have been different."
"I know, Dad."
Thank you, God.


  1. Yikes. Your son is very, very, VERY lucky that nobody was hurt or killed. Driving can be dangerous enough when you're sober -- you're playing russian roulette driving drunk. And worst of all, it's other people's lives you're playing with. Not cool.

    On the positive side, sounds like this was a real wake-up call for your son. Let's hope that he makes whatever changes that he needs to make to ensure that he never does anything like this again. And if he can help prevent other people from doing it, even better.

    Good luck to him... he obviously has a supportive dad who loves him, which is a good start :-)


  2. Thanks Kelly. Tough night, better days.

  3. Oh Man! Not good, yet in a weird way...good. He's going to get through this because of people like you in his life.